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Youth, experience key for Patriots

By Tommy Keeler Jr.

Shenandoah Valley Christian Academy's girls soccer team has a good mix of youth and experience. So far this season, that has been a perfect combination for the Patriots.

They have started the season off 4-0 and haven't allowed a goal in any of their games.

"We're pretty level in all of our classes. We have four seniors, and then five in every other class," SVCA coach Dustin Wheelock said. "We're able to develop the younger ones, and then having the upper school students bring that experience."

That experience paid off for the Patriots in their first game of the season against James Wood. The Patriots defeated James Wood 3-0. Last year the Patriots lost 6-1 to the Colonels.

"Last year we were lacking that calmness in a big-game situation," Wheelock said. "This year they were very calm coming into the game. They were very relaxed and that helps a lot.

"Beating James Wood was a really big win for us. They were more motivated and confident in themselves."

Wheelock said that win and confidence has carried over, and he is hoping that it will continue for the rest of the season.

The Patriots have had a very balanced attack. In a 5-0 win over Mt. Carmel on Tuesday, they had five different players score.

"I'm very pleased with how the girls are playing," Wheelock said. "It's a long season and we need to keep improving with every game."

PLAYING TOGETHER: Strasburg's girls soccer team is off to very solid start this season. The Rams are 1-2-1.

While the season is young, there's plenty of reason for optimism in Strasburg. Rams coach Katherine Klus said the team chemistry has been great.

"There's a strong sense of camaraderie among the girls," Klus said. "They're playing together. They've played well together the entire season."

The Rams lost some strong players, but also return quite a few and have some promising young players as well.

In a 2-0 victory over Manassas Park on Tuesday, Strasburg senior Kirsten Campbell scored both goals. Freshman Sarah Peer had the assist on each goal, and the play of senior goalie Anna Sparacio also helped the Rams get the win. Manassas Park outshot the Rams, but Sparacio had 13 saves.

"They've improved with each game," Klus said. "They have been very dedicated. They should be very proud of themselves so far."

LEARNING CURVE: Central's girls soccer squad is going through some early-season growing pains.

The Falcons lost quite a few starters from last year to graduation, and now have a lot of new faces in the starting lineup. Central starts four sophomores and a freshman, but the Falcons do have some veteran players to help show them the way.

One of those veteran players is senior Hannah Stephens, who said she enjoys being a leader to the younger players.

"All the seniors and the upperclassmen try to like take the lead and we encourage the younger girls, because it's scary out there playing with girls that are so much older than you," Stephens said.

The Falcons are off to a 1-3-1 start, but went 1-0-1 this week against Skyline and Bull Run District rival Madison County.

Stephens said she thinks the younger players have really come along well for the team.

"I think they've done really well," Stephens said. "By the time they're upperclassmen, I think they'll do really well."

Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com


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